Generous Gift Funds Renovation
Robert Day has presented Pitzer College with a personal gift of $3 million for the renovation of Avery Auditorium. The generous gift is one of the largest private donations ever received by the College and will be used to completely renovate and upgrade the auditorium, which was built in 1969. At Day's request, the auditorium will be named George Benson Auditorium to honor his good friend, the late Dr. George Benson.
Benson was a remarkable leader: a founding trustee of Pitzer College, the founding president and a founding trustee of Claremont Men's College (which became coeducational in 1976), and an early trustee of Harvey Mudd College, where he played an instrumental role in its establishment. All three colleges, established within seventeen years of each other, are currently the youngest in the nation to be ranked in the Top 50 by U.S.News & World Report. George Benson Auditorium will be the first academic building to be named after Benson on a Claremont College campus and is fittingly located at Pitzer College, which geographically resides in the middle of the three colleges.
In close collaboration with Robert J. Bernard, organizer of the founding boards of Claremont McKenna College, Harvey Mudd College and Pitzer College, Benson worked with founder Russell K. Pitzer to lay the foundation for the establishment of Pitzer College. As a founding member of Pitzer College’s Board of Trustees, Benson defined the key qualifications required for the College’s first president as character and determination, personality, executive ability and scholarship. Benson chaired the search committee that named John W. Atherton, then dean of faculty for Claremont Men’s College, as Pitzer’s founding president. Benson also secured the initial gift to establish Harvey Mudd College and recruited its first president, Joseph Platt.
“Robert Day is a generous and devoted friend to The Claremont Colleges and we value his relationship with Pitzer College. This is a deeply meaningful and insightful gift for which we are most grateful,” President Laura Skandera Trombley said.
“George Benson was a dear friend and a great leader,” Day said. “It is a privilege to be able to make this gift in his memory and for the benefit of Pitzer College. The quality of student life was one of George's great passions and I know he would be very excited by this project and Brenda Levin's design.”
The entire interior of the auditorium will be replaced and new technology will be installed for the benefit of the College's Media Studies program. A large glass lobby will be added to the front of the building and will include pocket doors to facilitate performances in the lobby that can be viewed from the lawn. The auditorium renovation will employ green building principles such as an HVAC system that reduces energy consumption as well as recycled carpeting and fiber seats.
The renovation will be undertaken by Brenda Levin of Levin & Associates Architects, Los Angeles. Brenda Levin was the recipient of the University of Southern California School of Architecture's prestigious Parkinson Spirit of Urbanism Award and is the recipient of the first Creative Force Award on the West Coast, as well as the architect for the successful renovation of the Griffith Park Observatory. The renovation is scheduled to begin in the fall and continue into the winter. The auditorium is the only part of Avery Hall that will be named in Benson's honor.
Chicano Latino Scholarship Benefit
Pitzer College held its fourth annual Fabian Núñez '97 Chicano Latino Scholarship Benefit at Universal CityWalk in Los Angeles on May 20. Established in 2004 in honor of Pitzer alumnus Fabian Núñez, this is the College's first scholarship designed specifically for Chicano Latino students. This year's benefit, held at Universal's elite hallmark venue, the Rumba Room, provided a wonderful opportunity to celebrate former State Assembly Speaker Núñez's service to California as well as to recognize the College's sixteen 2008 Núñez scholars and their families.
More than one hundred guests attended the benefit, which included an hors d'oevres reception donated by Bon Appetít and a program hosted by NBC Universal and its affiliate stations Telemundo and mun2. Master of Ceremonies Yasmín Deliz, star of mun2's Vivo and The Chicas Project, kicked off the evening. Other speakers included President Laura Skandera Trombley, Pitzer College Trustee Cynthia Telles, scholarship recipient Alejandro Sanchez '08, California State Assemblyman Kevin de León '03, and special guest Dr. Fernando Torres-Gil, acting dean of the UCLA School of Public Affairs and Pitzer College's first Chicano Latino benefit honoree. Antonio Carmona, founding member of the Spanish musical group Ketama, concluded the evening's program with two songs from his recent album, Vengo Venenoso.
Since its inaugural year, the Pitzer College Fabian Núñez Scholarship Fund has grown significantly, raising more than $830,000 during Núñez's four years as Speaker of the Assembly. Find out more about the Fabian Núñez '97 Chicano Latino Scholarship Fund and find out how to make a gift.
Salon Evening Supports Scholarship
The Pitzer College President's Council is comprised of leading community members who lend their unique skills, talents and resources to the College. They are ambassadors for Pitzer and assist President Laura Skandera Trombley in sharing the richness of this wonderful institution.
For the fourth consecutive year the Council gathered with guests in a salon-like setting to support a very worthy cause—the Pitzer College President's Council Scholarship. This year's salon was held at the home of Ron Burkle P'98 at Greenacres Estate in Beverly Hills.
Guests enjoyed a reception followed by a conversation about environmental sustainability with President Trombley, Professor of Environmental Studies Paul Faulstich and Robert Redford.